Syria congress begins in Russian Federation but key players absent

The communiqué finalized at the Syrian National Dialogue Congress in Sochi includes 12 principles to settle the Syrian crisis that were worked out within the UN-backed Geneva process, UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura said on Tuesday.

Not only some 70 delegates representing the opposition who had initially accepted the Russian invitation to attend the conference ended up boycotting the one-day session by refusing to leave the Sochi airport but major powers including the USA, the United Kingdom and France also decided against taking part for fear that the outcome of the meeting would be very much to Moscow's taste.

The earlier Russian sponsored (backed by Turkey and Iran) Astana agreement in September past year had managed to reduce the intensity of violence by establishing de-escalation zones.

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Delegates at a Syrian peace conference in Sochi have called for respect for the country's territorial integrity and said the Syrian people alone should decide the shape of their government. Instead, it asked the Turkish delegation to represent it. "But neither Turkey nor Iran nor Russian Federation, which are the guarantor nations of the Astana process, were invited".

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and de Mistura agreed to establish a constitution commission composed of delegates elected at the forum and representatives who didn't attend the talks, according to Sputnik.

The UN Secretary-General office on Friday in a statement said that he is confident that the dialogue in Sochi "will be an important contribution to a revived intra-Syrian talks process" and will be based on the full implementation of the 2012 Geneva Communiqué and UNSC resolution 2254.

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The Syrian Negotiation Commission (SNC) which arrived from Ankara decided not to attend the congress when they saw the Syrian regime flag at the airport and the conference venue.

The Kurds accused Moscow of giving its approval to the Turkish offensive against YPG fighters in the Afrin region of Syria.

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